Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Arabic 101

 The first Arabic word you learn when you arrive in Saudi Arabia is the word, “No.” This is pronounced “Luh,” and is followed in rapid fire succession by a series of machine gun “Luh’s” which sound like “Luh Luh Luh Luh Luh,” or “No No No No No.” This is most definitely accompanied by an index finger protruding from a closed iron fist wagging in your face.
“Luh,” is literally the answer to every Saudi question.
 “Will it rain today?”
“Luh Luh Luh Luh Luh.”
“Read a good book lately?”
“Luh Luh Luh Luh Luh.”
“Where can a guy get a cold drink around here?”
“Luh Luh Luh Luh Luh.”
“Can I ride your camel?”
  "Luh Luh Luh Luh Luh.”
“You mind if I talk to your sister?"
      ….
 The funniest thing, of course, is watching two Saudi guys argue about something because both start wagging fingers in the other’s face saying “No.”
“Yah Mohamed, Lionel Messi is the best futboler in the world.”
“Messi? Luh Luh Luh Luh Luh. (don’t forget the finger wagging) He is the son of a motherless goat. Christiana Ronaldo is the best. It is written!"
"Ronaldo? Luh Luh Luh Luh Luh. Though his brow is strong like the Sultans of old and his neck rises above his unfolded collar like the towers of ancient Babylon, his chin is still hairless like the scrotum of a pubescent boy. He is no match for the skill of Messi. Allah be praised.”
“Luh Luh Luh Luh Luh. Handsome? Messi is like a distant cousin I consent to take as a third or fourth wife only if she comes with a hundred camel. Allah, the most merciful.”
“Luh Luh Luh Luh Luh. I said noting of camels. Allah is great.”
“Luh Luh Luh Luh Luh. Allah the most wise."
“Luh Luh Luh Luh Luh."
 "Luh Luh Luh Luh Luh."
   ….
   (and this goes on for hours)
 The second Arabic word you learn when coming to Saudi Arabia isn’t really a word at all but a hand gesture. This is made by turning the palm upwards and touching all five fingers together at the same time. Then, you shake it out in front of another person’s face like a beggar asking for alms. It means everything from: Please. Stop. Why? Help! Forgive Me. And Understand?
It can even be ratcheted up, almost like the fine tuning of a violin string. The tighter you hold the fingers and squint your eyes, the more you mean it.
 “Yah Mohamed, did you see the great Messi play for Barca? He is like Aladdin on the magic carpet.”
“Luh Luh Luh Luh Luh. (excessive finger wave followed by upturned palm with fingers touching) Watch yourself, my friend. Ronaldo plays for Real, his striking legs are like the powerful hinds of a meaty goat.”
“Luh Luh Luh Luh Luh. (followed by extensive finger waving causing the speaker to throw his scarf over a shoulder then an upturned palm wagging in the other’s face) I say it is Messi. Allah the most gracious.”
(This continues with raised palms and fingers touching and sticking it in the speakers face until both become tired.)
 The third Arabic word you learn when coming to Saudi Arabia is the word “hullus,” and it means, “Enough.” This is an essential word for dealing with stubborn Saudis who would rather cut off their own head than give up on an argument.
“Yah Mohamed, I like Messi. You like Messi.”
“I no like Messi.”
“You no like Messi? Why you no like Messi?”
“I no like Messi because his face … it’s no so good.” (cupped fingers)
“Luh Luh Luh Luh Luh. I think his face… it’s okay.” (wagging fingers turned to cupped fingers)
“Luh Luh Luh Luh Luh. His face like the bleeding anus of a raped sheep. Allah the most gracious.”
“Luh Luh Luh Luh Luh. I think he handsome, like the falcon soaring in the sky. Allah the most high.”
“Luh Luh Luh Luh Luh.”
“Luh Luh Luh Luh Luh.”
“Luh Luh Luh Luh Luh. Hullus.”
“Hullus?”
“Hullus.”
“Hullus?”
“Hullus.”
“Hullus.”
Of course, the last Arabic word you learn on your first day in Saudi Arabia is the word for, “It is finished,” and that’s “Fuk it.”
(No. I’m not joking)
It is followed by a throat cutting gesture with the hand that looks a bit like a soft karate chop. “Fuk it.” It looks like this.
“Yah Mohamed, you see that goal by Messi last night. Is very nice. You think is nice. You tell Mohamed is nice.”
“Luh Luh Luh Luh Luh. Allah the most Angelic. Messi was off sides. Even the most blind son of a crippled she-donkey could see he was off sides.”
“Luh Luh Luh Luh Luh. It’s no off sides. It’s goal.”
“Luh Luh Luh Luh Luh. Is no goal.”
“Hullus.”
“Hullus.”
“Hullus.”
“Hullus.”
“Luh Luh Luh Luh Luh… Hullus… Fuk it!”
“Fuk it?”
“Fuk it.”
“Fuk it, hullus.”
“Allah be praised!”

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